Finally, the end of Century is upon us. 100 years in story terms, and quite a few in real terms, the finale of the third volume of the League is in hand. And what a finale it is.
The League picks up in the modern world for the first time. Not that it is recognisable as “our” reality, as fictional world continue to clash, nor is the League itself recognizable, or frankly even existent. The League’s failings at the end of 1969 have driven it apart. Orlando is buried in war, Mina institutionalized, Allan nowhere to be seen and the task of stopping the antichrist ignored. Orlando returns to Blighty, where he/she gets a big kick in the pants to start sorting things out, by trying to bring the League back together and getting on with what they should have been doing all along.
Again, the League continues to pluck from established fiction, and there is a clearly gleeful major subversion of a well-known modern franchise (read the book to find out which one) into the villain in ways that are quite shocking, alongside the more minor cameos to play “spot the character” (The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker one of the best to date). The League continues to bumble along in sorting things out in their by now established, somewhat clueless, pattern.
The look of this book is pulled back to a darker mood than 1969, but then it starts in dark place. No League, ongoing bloody foreign conflict, Police brutality at home, the onset of the antichrist and maybe Moore’s lack of enthusiasm for modern culture? That doesn’t stop creativity and imagination abounding in the wake of the antichrist, final showdown, or the epilogue pages.
As the concluding segment, you really do need to read the first two books in this series, 1910 and 1969. It will make zero sense unless you are up to speed; it’s pretty bonkers even if you have read them.
Minions of the Moon (the customary prose section) also wraps up. There is a link to the main narrative, but on the whole it is independent. It’s entertaining and brings back the Volume One villain in a clever way to help clear thing up.
If I was to register a dissatisfaction with the book, it would be that the ending is a deus ex machina, resolution appearing almost out of nowhere. It is frankly such a crazy ending that I am prepared to forgive it. As for the series as a whole, Moore and O’Neill could, I suspect, just have gone on churning out Victorian era League. The fact they didn’t, was always going to be a risk, but a risk that paid off in my view. What results is fresher, broader in scope, look and feel than another adventure confined to the late Nineteenth Century would have produced.
Unsurprisingly, I’m going to recommend this. Now that you can read the whole story in one go there’s never been a better time to check it out.
Review by Jonathan Miller.